Weekly Progress Report #42

Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to go forward. This past month I’ve been focused on editing and revising. It’s become a chore. Yes, it advances me to my goal of being published, but detracts from the main reason I’m writing. Mainly, the joy of writing a story. Sometimes they are received well, other times they fall flat. Regardless, I enjoy writing each and every one of the stories. The more I write, the better the stories and more importantly the better the writing.

I looked back at some of my early writings and I cringe. What was I thinking? Some of them look like a total hack job. This shows me how far I’ve progressed. I’ve still got a ways to go. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. I’m not anywhere close to that number yet. I’ve yet to complete a novel. I’ll work on it in spurts, then something will come up to distract me from it. It takes a bit to get back into writing the novel.

I don’t expect my first novel to do well. Maybe my fourth or fifth. Just like writing short stories, it takes practice to write a novel that I will be proud of. Writing the novel is a major project. Editing my memoir is a major project. I’m not at the level of writing to be able to do both at the same time. I could edit and revise on certain days of the week and write the novel on other days, but it doesn’t quite work that way with me. I need to write on the novel for several days in order to get back up to speed. Once I stop writing, then I have to start the process over again.

I hope to do the final revising of the memoir this week. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. I’m not going to pressure myself. It will come when it needs to come. Meanwhile, I will post my weekly writing challenge tonight. It’s a hard one in that it could go several ways. I always have a problem with these type of prompts. So many ideas, but only one story. I could write multiple stories on the prompt, but I feel that would get repetitive and negate the purpose of the challenges.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #31 Happy Mother’s Day Edition

I almost skipped the weekly progress report because it’s Mother’s day.

I wasn’t as productive in writing this week as I had hoped to be. I’m still struggling to find a consistent time to write every day. My energy levels are increasing and as a result, I find myself pushing to do more at work. This usually leaves me exhausted by the time I get home. Eventually things will balance out, but who knows how long that will take. I’m still getting hot flashes. I’ll go a day or two with a minor hot flash, then I’ll have a day where I’m experiencing multiple intense hot flashes.

I did knock one item off of my “To do” list for writing. Of course, it was the easiest to do.

  • Finish first draft of My Cancer Journey
  • Rewrite short story Lump
  • Rewrite short story The Curse
  • Finish first draft of Part 2 of The Altered Wars
  • Setup Storylines page on this blog Completed
  • Continue the Brandon Sanderson lectures

I plan on doing yardwork with Mrs. D today. I didn’t get to help her last year due to the Cancer treatments, so I’m slowly getting back into the landscaping. I do have to do my yearly maintenance on the in ground sprinkler system.

This upcoming week is all about finding balance in work and writing. My goal is to carve out at least a one hour period every day to write. Realistically, it needs to be the same time each day as I work better with routine.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Scan Results Are In …

The absolute best news I could get, I’m officially NED (No Evidence of Disease). I’ve been smiling all afternoon! It’s been a hell of a journey, one that I don’t want to do again. My emotions have been pushed, pulled, twisted, spindled and mutilated for the last year. It’s going to take a while to get used to the new paradigm of being CANCER FREE.

I’ll be getting bloodwork every three months for the next year or so to make sure that the Cancer does not return. I’m off hormonal therapy so my Testosterone should start rising in the next month or so. It will take about a year for it to get back to normal. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching my PSA to make sure it doesn’t rise past 5.0 or 6.0. If by some chance it does rise, then I’ll be going back on hormone therapy until my Testosterone is back to zero and then do radiation treatments.

Honestly, I don’t think the cancer will be coming back. I’m continuing on my FenBen protocol. What’s that, you ask? In the coming days, I’m going to be writing Part 3 of My Cancer Journey and showing exactly how I beat cancer. Once it is up, I’ll make sure to let everyone know.

My only dilemma now is the title of my blog. I may have to change it as I’m no longer “Writing with Cancer”. Maybe something like “Writing Cancer Free”? I don’t know, I’ll have to think on it. I’m open to suggestions as to what to change it to, or even if it should stay the same.

I thank everyone for their support in my trying times. The encouragement I got when I was down was invaluable. I thank also God for watching over me.

I feel like walking outside to the middle of the street and yelling:

CANCER FREE!!!!!!!!!

Weekly Progress Report #23

Photo by Hayley Seibel on Unsplash

My writing progress this last week not only circled the drain, but was power flushed down the toilet. I tried to write Tuesday and then gave up. From Wednesday thru Friday it was much easier to just not write and not feel guilty each day. Yes, I was exhausted, but that’s not a good excuse at all.

I know some bloggers write once a week or three times a week, but unfortunately that doesn’t work for me. I need to write each and every day otherwise I’ll quickly fall into not writing for days at a time. Then there are bloggers that post 4 or 5 times a day using the scheduling feature. Not going to happen here as I only used the scheduling thing once and when it didn’t post for some reason on time, I said “Pfft”.

My stated goal when I started this blog was to write every day. I’m going to try to get back to that even if it means that I just sit down and write a quick blurb of everything sucks today.

I did accomplish my weekly writing challenge. At first, I was thinking about writing a short story about how someone made a mistake and then overcame it, but realized that writing an essay was much better. Hey, it’s my weekly writing challenge and I can do whatever I feel like on it.

Just noticed that it is Daylight Savings day where the clocks skip ahead an hour. We are still officially in Winter and the clocks are shifting already? This is insane. I had planned to start planting the garden this weekend, but a cold front moved in yesterday and I woke up to near freezing temperatures. I’ll look ahead to next weekend to start planting.

My next appointment is this Wednesday and I’ll find out my fate scan results. Hopefully the doctor will also have an inkling of a clue as to what is happening to my liver. I’m expecting him to refer me to yet another specialist.

The last two nights, I slept a full seven hours each without having to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Then I took 3 naps of two hours each yesterday. Might take one or two today. Either way, I’m definitely taking it easy this weekend.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #21

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Kind of a weird week for writing. I attempted and completed a Six Sentence Story which is amazingly hard to do. I had quite a bit of trouble with my weekly prompt. I drew from the Bowl of Doom on Friday night and just could not come up with anything that was worth a damn. Finally, I just decided to go the easy route and write about my conversations with my inner voice. Learned that the style of writing is called metafiction. Who knew? I attempted to be humorous, but looking at it today, I see that it pretty much falls flat.

Even though it wasn’t a success, I did learn a few of things. One, I’m pretty terrible at writing a humor story. It may appeal to a select few, but my twisted humor is not that great. I also learned that I should probably draw from the bowl of doom on Thursday nights to give myself a bit of extra thinking time for these prompts. Seeing how on Fridays, I usually don’t post much of anything noteworthy and when I decide to skip a day of posting, it is usually on Fridays, I feel safe in getting that extra time for the weekly challenge.

The most important lesson I got from this exercise, is that I seem to be finding my niche. Looking back, the stories that really resonate are the ones where I emphasize feelings. In other words the angst of a character. Quite frankly I’m a bit surprised as I spent a huge chunk of my life trying to repress my own feelings. Maybe this is my way of letting out those feelings and that is why they seem so authentic.

I’m finding it hard to sit down and write lately. I believe it is because I’m a bit preoccupied with my upcoming scan and diagnosis. Which leads me to the Health update:

My PMSA scan to see where and if I have cancer has been postponed yet again. I’m now scheduled for March 7th. Seems that the radiation dose used for the scan is only made in Texas and California. As they have to overnight it, scheduling is iffy. I may get the scan in March, but it could be April before I get it. The not knowing is creating anxiety. From all indications, it should be a good scan, but I’ve been hit with bad news when I least expect it many times in my battle against prostrate cancer. In the back of my mind, I keep expecting it to be bad. When fighting cancer, it’s important to keep positive as it’s been documented numerous times that it does have an effect on the treatments. Damn hard to do.

I stopped doing the FenBen protocol last week as my blood draw showed my liver levels elevated. Each day, I’ve been getting a bit further in my day before I become exhausted. From experience, this tells me that my liver levels are returning to normal. I’m waiting until I know for sure that the levels are back to normal before resuming the FenBen. When I do resume, instead of taking it nightly, I’m going to do cycles of 3 days taking it and 4 days of not taking it each week.

My current plan is to discontinue the Lupron injections unless my scan comes back showing I have lots of cancer. I’m just about at the end of the 3 month cycle. The hot flashes are starting to decrease both in frequency and intensity. Last night was the first one in a very long time where I didn’t have an intense hot flash 5 or 10 minutes after laying down in bed.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #19

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Pretty good week for writing. By not picking my weekly prompt until Friday night, I was able to do some more creative writing. The Six Sentence story Redemption was pretty hard to do. First draft, I had 10 sentences, then cut it down to five and the story no longer made sense. Added 3 more sentences and then cut it down to six finally. Reworked several sentences and viola! I spent way more time on it than I thought I would. Great exercise. Turns out that story is now my highest viewed and most popular. Go figure.

Submitted my short story “The Curse” for the fourth time and in less than 48 hours it was rejected. Maybe fifth time is the charm? Submitted it last night and keeping fingers crossed as always.

I really need to get back to editing on my other stories in my queue, but I find myself drawn toward being creative right now and writing flash fiction pieces. I know there is a market for flash fiction, but for right now, I’ll stick with posting them here. Maybe later, I’ll start holding them for submitting. As tomorrow is Valentine’s day, I’m thinking of writing about the time I set the bar so high, I’ll never be able to match it again.

I have felt pretty run-down this last week. I’m still in a holding pattern as far as treatment until I get all my scans done. I am meeting with my urologist on Wednesday.

Yesterday I rototilled the new garden area. This is the first pass that is breaking up clumps of grass. In a week or so, I’ll do the second pass. I had to take a break half-way through, but managed to get enough energy to finish. Then I slept for a solid four hours afterwards.

I did get my new shoes. They are orthopedic and do help somewhat. I still have pains in my feet and at times my feet go numb. I may have a different problem but am loathe to address it right now with a doctor. I can’t take any painkillers right now as they affect my liver, so I just keep powering through the pain. Getting old sucks.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Weekly Progress Report #18

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I set the bar low on writing goals last week, so low you could clear it with high heels. Sadly I couldn’t clear the bar. I have a theory on why I’m struggling lately with writing goals. It’s pretty long, so I’ll do a separate post later this morning on it. It should also change the way I’m doing things, so I hope that I’ll be a bit more creative and be able to write more.

My short story “The Curse” was rejected for the third time. I have a list of six Sci-Fi magazines that I had planned on submitting this story too, but I can’t find the damn list. I’ll work on finding the list today and get the story submitted to the next one on the list. If by some chance, all six reject it, I may go through another round of beta reading. Not sure if I want to do that or not. I may just shelve it for now.

As far as writing goals for this week, other than posting every day, I’ll wait and set my goals after my next post.

In Health news, I am on track now for a new diagnosis. The MRI I got on Wednesday looked good, but the Dr. wants to compare it to prior MRI’s. That should happen this week as I’m dropping off a CD of all my MRI’s from MD Anderson to him tomorrow.

I got to say, it was a world of difference going to get this MRI. Previous ones were at MD Anderson. The one I got Wednesday was a Precision Imaging. A business dedicated to doing scans. The waiting room was opulent and quite full. Comfortable couches and chairs that were roomy. Even the changing rooms were nice, kind of like at an upscale clothing store. The MRI only took about 20 minutes to complete instead of the hour and a half that it normally takes. I was much impressed.

No appointments this week as of yet. I do have a consult with a urologist on the following week. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m tired. Really tired. My stamina is super low right now. This is to be expected as I’m at the tail end of my three month Lupron shot. It happens every time. I’m sleeping about 5 1/2 hours a night right now. I should be getting between 6 and 7 hours, but my body won’t let me sleep that long right now. As I get closer to the end of this cycle, my sleep will get less and less and that definitely contributes to how tired I am.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Preliminary Results Are In

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Got a call from Terk Oncology yesterday. From the MRI I did on Wednesday, my prostrate looks really good. No tumor. YAY!

But, before making a definite diagnosis, my doctor wants to compare it to the MRI I had last April that started this whole ball of wax going. From experience, it will take a while to get the previous MRI’s from MD Anderson. However, I’m blessed to have a super smart wife. When we had met with the surgical oncologist last month, she had requested the records of my MRI’s. Not only did they give her the paper copies of the reports, they also gave her a CD with all three MRI’s stored on it.

I’ll be dropping off the CD at Terk on Monday. By next week, I should have a complete diagnosis and a treatment plan. I asked about the PSMA test which will show any cancer in my body. They are trying to get insurance to cover it. If insurance does not cover it, then I’ll have to pay out of pocket about $5,000. Oof! That’s going to be a hard decision as we are barely making it right now with all the medical bills I’ve racked up.

When I got home yesterday from work, I was exhausted. I vegged out and never went near my PC. Went to bed last night intending to sleep in this morning. Seems that my dog, Gracie had other ideas and woke me up at 3:30 am. She didn’t need to go out, she just knows that I usually get up around 4 am and was making sure I got up.

The plan for today is to go lay down and get a few more hours of sleep. Depending on the weather, I’m going to try to rototiller a bit. Of course, it also depends on my energy level which is way down at this point. We want to plant a veggie garden this year to help defray grocery costs. Then later on, polish up my story for the Weekly Writing Challenge and post it about 6 pm.

Back To Square One

When things are finally falling into the right places, something happens that puts you back to square one

Author: Christine Celis

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Had a very long appointment today with an oncologist from Terk Oncology. It was illuminating to say the least. It also left me feeling more than angry. He had copies of all my records from MD Anderson and it was a huge folder. It seemed impressive, but he called it a cut and paste job. They were mostly echoing each others reports from the various doctors I had seen. He also said I had the strangest case of Stage 4 cancer that he had ever seen. Turns out the the diagnosis was from the radiologist making one comment that my tumor may be protruding into my rectum wall and the doctors there pounced on it and called me Stage 4.

Who knows at this point? Do I have actual Stage 4 or not? If not, then I’ve been put through an emotional wringer for the last nine months needlessly. I feel like I’ve been jerked around and it’s been hell.

{Deleted six paragraphs of ranting and raving}

Going forward, I’m ceasing all treatment from MD Anderson and switching to Terk Oncology. I’m getting scheduled for another colonoscopy to focus on the area near the prostrate and to check the thickness of the rectum wall. In addition, Terk Oncology is ordering a more precise MRI scan and another scan that I can’t remember the name of. All of these scans will hopefully paint a crystal clear picture of exactly what’s going on with my prostrate.

I have to say, the one silver lining in all this mess, is that at the very least it got me to writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings. Believe me, it’s a crappy motivation, but it worked. I don’t recommend it at all.

Tomorrow Is The Big Day Again … Maybe

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Earlier this month, I had hoped for clarity on what is happening with my tumor on my prostrate. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I have great regards for all the doctors at MD Anderson Jacksonville, except for the surgical oncologist. After much trepidation, I voiced my concern at the end of December to my medical oncologist. Apparently, there was nothing they could do to switch me to a different surgical oncologist.

Because of that and the total lack of any information on what is happening to me, I am going to get a second opinion tomorrow. This is at an entirely different facility that is not connected to MD Anderson. My wife has been diligently filling out form after form for me while I was working ridiculously long hours. The new office has all my information and copies of all my scans that I got from MD Anderson. Fingers crossed that at last, I will find out my fate going forward. Right now, I’m in limbo, not doing any treatment other than the hormonal treatment I got last November that lasts 3 months. I have continued my taking of FenBen each day which has helped in my mind.

The appointment is at 10 am and it will last a couple of hours. My wife and I plan on going out to eat after that and maybe doing some window shopping. At 3 pm, I’ve got an appointment with my radiation oncologist at MD Anderson. Last time I got to talk to him, I felt an instant connection like he had my best interests at heart. He explained exactly what was going on with my cancer. So between the two appointments, I should have complete clarity as to what is going on and what I’m going to have to face in the future.

I realized this morning that when I got up as my alarm was going off, that I haven’t felt good in the mornings for almost a year. I have my alarm across the room, so I’m forced to get up to turn it off. This is to keep me from being late to work. It’s getting harder and harder to jump up and turn it off. I don’t dare place my alarm near my bed as I learned years ago that I’ll repeatedly hit snooze and sometimes accidently turn it off when I meant to snooze.

I’ve always been blessed to be able to go from sleep to instant awake in seconds. I just wish that the pain in my legs, feet, back and the rest of my body wouldn’t be present each and every morning. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t another problem going on with all the pain I’m experiencing each day. I can’t take painkillers right now as they affect my liver which has become very sensitive due to the chemotherapy.

I’m just tired.